Singtel’s bottom-line took a hit in its fiscal Q1 as continued declines in mobile revenue in Singapore, Australia and India led to a dip in consolidated group turnover.

Net profit for the quarter ending 30 June slumped 34.9 per cent year-on-year to SGD541 million ($391 million), largely as a result of losses at Bharti Airtel in India, along with higher depreciation and amortisation costs in network and spectrum across the group.

Overall pre-tax earnings contributions from its regional associates fell 14 per cent due to higher network costs, depreciation and finance charges from Airtel’s 4G network expansion.

Operating revenue dipped 0.5 per cent to SGD4.11 billion, with declines in Singapore consumer and group enterprise offsetting growth in its digital businesses and consumer segment in Australia.

In a statement, Singtel CEO Chua Sock Koong (pictured, left) said: “The Airtel impact aside, business is stable as we continued to execute to strategy in the first quarter. We added post-paid customers in Singapore and Australia, and grew our digital businesses Amobee and Trustwave. This was achieved against a backdrop of heightened competition, sustained industry headwinds and subdued economic growth.”

Competition in its home mobile market continued its intensity with the entry of new MVNOs, with post-paid ARPU decreasing 12.6 per cent to SGD40 and and prepaid down 7 per cent to SGD17.

Mobile service revenue fell 6.3 per cent to SGD248 million, as equipment sales rose 12.1 per cent to SGD115 million.

Post-paid subcribers increased 5.8 per cent to 2.6 million; prepaid was down 0.6 per cent to 1.6 million.

Mobile service revenue at its Optus unit fell 6.7 per cent to AUD855 million ($579 million) due to lower ARPU from a higher mix of SIM-only plans and data price competition across both the post-paid and prepaid markets, the operator said.

Overall consumer mobile revenue was up 7.2 per cent to AUD1.41 billion due to a 32 per cent jump in equipment sales to AUD501 million.

Prepaid subs fell 9.5 per cent to end June at 3.37 million though ARPU declined 5.2 per cent to AUD18. Post-paid subs were up 7.5 per cent to 5.73 million, with ARPU down 11.3 per cent to AUD38.

Regional units
Excluding Airtel, the regional associates’ contributions were up 10 per cent, led by Telkomsel in Indonesia which posted an 18 per cent increase in earnings on robust growth in data and digital services.

Chua said it saw a market recovery in Indonesia and relative price stability return to the Indian market, noting “we are confident our regional associates will reap the benefits of significant network investments, continued smartphone adoption and demand for digital content, products and services in their markets.”

The group’s Digital Life business grew 17 per cent to SGD301 million, driven by contributions from Videology, acquired in August 2018, and recognition of technology licensing fees from iTV. Excluding these contributions, operating revenue remained stable.

For the full year, Singtel forecasts consolidated EBITDA (excluding NBN migration revenues) to increase by a high-single digit figure.